Being at the crossroads of important trade routes and known for the production of silk and cotton garments, Bam is situated in a desert environment on the southern edge of the Iranian high plateau. The origins of Bam can be traced back to the Achaemenid period (6th to 4th centuries BC).
But its heydays were from the 7th to 11th centuries. The existence of life in the oasis was based on the underground irrigation canals, the qanāts, of which Bam has preserved some of the earliest evidence in Iran. Arg-e Bam is the most representative example of a fortified medieval town built in vernacular technique using mud layers. The Arg-e Bam (Citadel of Bam), established in the Sassanian period, is situated atop an artificial hill in the northwest quadrant of the old city of Bam. This artificial hill elevates the citadel approximately 5 meters above the surrounding urban fabric. The citadel complex occupies an area 315 meters wide along the east-west axis by 270 meters long along the north-south axis. Bounded on the north by the river, by steep cliffs to the east, and by gardens and residential neighborhoods to the north, northwest and south, the Arg-e Bam was optimized for both self-sufficiency and protection.
This is one of the most splendid historical sites in the whole world; while most of the best known historical sites in the world signify a limited period in history, Arg-e-Bam displays the imprints of 2000 continuous years of a dramatic, eventful history .This peculiarity has made estimation of the precise age of most parts of this historical complex rather difficult, sometimes even impossible.
Security was a major concern in the Arg-e Bam; the citadel complex was surrounded by deep trenches and four encircling and dividing defensive walls. The citadel subdivided into two major sections, residential and military, separated by a wall tentatively dated to the Seljuk period. The citadel also contains three wells, located along a single north-south axis. The residential complex contains the governor's residence, baths, a detached watchtower, the chahar fasl (four seasons) palace, the prison, the dungeons, and one of the citadel wells. The military section comprises the commander's quarters, barracks, stables for 200 horses, and two wells. The governor's mansion was constructed at the highest point within the Arg-e Bam, next to the complex watchtower. Heavily renovated during the Safavid (1501 - 1722) period, the mansion consists of a two-story main iwan with summer and winter wings. The prison and dungeon were located beneath the governor's residence, rather than in the military section. This dungeon and the chahar fasl, (a specifically Iranian building type, the "four-seasons building") are considered to be the oldest buildings within the Arg-e Bam. The detached watchtower is four-sided and decorated with shallow rectangular insets and three levels of windows. Below the watchtower platform is a chamber with an elevated entrance accessible via a staircase. The existence of other rooms within the watchtower suggests that the tower had other functions beyond that of security.
Natural disaster has recently struck Bam: shortly after the devastating earthquake of 26 December 2003, which leveled the city, the Arg-e Bam was inscribed on the 2004 World Heritage List, and added directly to the World Heritage in Danger List. Prior to the earthquake, the fortress had possessed the distinction of being the largest adobe building in the world, recognized for its unbaked mud brick and poured mud wall construction
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